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You also must choose the correct type and size of shot for the shotshell. In general, as the size of your target decreases, you should decrease the diameter of the shot you use.

  • As pellet diameter decreases, more shot can be placed in a standard shotshell.
  • The smaller the shot "number," the larger the pellet diameter.
  • Shotshell marked as "magnum" means the shell has more shot or more gunpowder than a regular shell. Magnum and regular shotshells are interchangeable if the correct gauge and shell length are used.
Comparison of three shot sizes

Steel shot pellets react differently than lead when shot. Steel weighs about 2/3 as much as lead but is much harder. Steel does not deform and is not as unstable in flight. It will produce a tighter pattern than lead shot. If using steel shot for hunting, choose a steel shot size one to two sizes larger than the lead shot you would select and choose a less constrictive choke.